In The ‘Hood: Brickyard Edition

Indianapolis is one of the favorite stops on the NASCAR circuit and with good reason. Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the oldest and most historically significant track in the world, and the city itself has a vibrant downtown, with great restaurants and attractions.

Here are some spots to see when you’re in Indy:

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum – An absolute must-see is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, which is one of the best facilities in the world when it comes to automobiles and auto racing. A National Historic Landmark since 1987, the Hall of Fame Museum is located inside the track itself.

The 96,000-square-foot facility draws about 250,000 visitors annually, and has some 75 vehicles on display at all times. Among the historically significant cars featured now are the Marmon "Wasp," which Ray Harroun drove to victory in the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911; all four of A.J. Foyt’s Indy 500 winning cars; the Duesenberg No. 12 Murphy Special, the only car ever to win both the Indianapolis 500 (1922) and the French Grand Prix at Le Mans (1921); and a 1954/55 Mercedes-Benz Formula One car, similar to one that just sold at auction for $30 million. There are also extensive trophy and memorabilia collections.

St. Elmo’s Steakhouse – If you want to see where the drivers, owners and officials dine, you’ve got to hit St. Elmo’s Steakhouse on Illinois Street in downtown Indianapolis. The most famous menu item is the St. Elmo shrimp cocktail which features five jumbo shrimp – an oxymoron? – combined with sauce that has enough horseradish in it to melt your nostrils. Great stuff, to be sure. As you would expect, the beef is pretty amazing, too.

Slippery Noodle Inn – The oldest bar in Indiana is the Slippery Noodle Inn, a rocking blues club not far from Jackson Square. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Slippery Noodle features two live bands, a full menu, a balcony and a game room, too.

The Slippery Noodle is the oldest commercial building left standing in Indianapolis and has received numerous awards for being one of the nation’s best blues bars. This used to be a haunt frequented by the infamous Brady and Dillinger gangs in the 1930s, and there are bullets still clearly visible in the brick wall.

Mug n Bun – Another Indianapolis institution is the Mug n Bun, purveyor of the biggest pork tenderloin sandwiches you will ever see, as well as some fantastic onion rings. There’s nothing upscale here, just a neighborhood drive-in restaurant that’s been around for more than half a century. The homemade root beer is a specialty, too.

Indianapolis Zoo – Obviously, the Indianapolis Zoo has a fine assortment of animals and exhibitions to see. Tops among them might be the dolphin in-water adventure, where a group of eight guests gets to interact with the mammals. But the zoo has much more than that, including art exhibits and a summer concert series. The zoo is an excellent choice for family members of all ages.